Wallabies wing Reece Hodge sprang one of the surprises of the Rugby World Cup so far when it was revealed he didn't know World Rugby's new guidelines for what are considered high tackles.

The All Blacks, however, are far more aware of what is considered legal and the penalties should they transgress - prop Joe Moody confirming today that he and his teammates were told of the guidelines and the sanctions before they left New Zealand several weeks ago.

"We sat down before the start of the tournament – I'm pretty sure it was before we got over here – and were told what they're looking at and how long suspensions are for anything," Moody said. "We have been told and had pointed out what all the suspensions and things are and how they're characterised."

All Blacks prop Joe Moody during their press conference. Photo / Mark Mitchell
All Blacks prop Joe Moody during their press conference. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Hodge's ignorance of the law after his high shoulder charge on Fiji flanker Peceli Yato during his side's first match here, which removed a concussed Yato from the game and potentially the tournament, did not mitigate against his ban; he was given a three-week suspension.


But it did raise eyebrows among observers as to what Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has been telling his team and that will apply to World Rugby too for they have promised to crack down on illegal high tackles during the sport's showpiece. The ruling body released a statement following the Hodge incident criticising the referees for not doing so.

Since then, USA flanker John Quill was shown a red card for his shoulder charge to the head of England playmaker Owen Farrell, whose teammate Piers Francis was cited for a similar incident in the first minute of England's 45-7 victory.

For Moody, who was criticised on social media for his shoulder appearing to make contact with a Springboks player's head during the All Blacks' opening win, the solution for escaping the referee's attention is simple.

"I'm pretty sure the only way to stay onside with the ref and not get a sanction is to not go anywhere near the head," he said. "It doesn't really matter now whether it's a heavy shot and a guy gets knocked out, or a graze. You've made contact with the head and you're going to get the same penalty for it.

"There's a very fine line, especially when a player is falling or ducking low or whatever. But at the same time, we always practice to dip late and hit under the ball. For the majority of the time, we're trying to get low.

"It's not really at the forefront of your brain, but at the same time, I don't think anybody is ever trying to put in high shots or anything like that. I'd say 99.99 per cent of the time it's accidental slip-ups and that sort of thing."

Tackling technique is likely to be one of the big areas of attention this week in Beppu ahead of the All Blacks' match against Canada in Oita on Wednesday. The All Blacks were remarkably disciplined against the Boks, giving away only four penalties to the South Africans' nine, and hooker Codie Taylor said it was imperative they remain so.

"Steve has made a couple of points around making sure we're really disciplined," Taylor said. "Pool play is a great chance to instill all those habits. There are little things on the field you can avoid like offsides. When it comes down to those playoffs moments it could cost you three points and the Cup or moving to the next round.


"Every ounce of momentum is important – you don't want to be the one giving those chances."